The Pursuit of Ease… (and pruning)
Ease. Just the word alone lengthens in your mouth and softens posture. It’s the word 97% of my clients use to describe their perfect social party. It’s also the word I use to lure my business and personal life along toward success.
Ease is not lazy. It describes calmness and stillness but also connection and alertness. Ease accepts what is happening now and observes, taking on new obstacles as they come up. This is especially important to me in a business that has a lot of ambiguity. Sanity and resourcefulness comes from being able to ease the mind, observe, stay connected, and adjust as necessary.
As I write, I’m wearing a flowey tunic from Free People (clothing to promote ease), and thinking about other ways ease is working (or trying to work) in my life and biz.
Maybe it’s because late winter/ early spring is the perfect time for tree pruning, but I can’t help but think about pruning and its metaphoric application in other areas of life. When you prune a tree, you keep the big picture in mind. What is the natural shape of this tree, where does it want to go? Then you select a few branches as the structural elements that will get your tree to its balanced shape. Remove branches surrounding these branches that are not structurally sound, unhealthy, or even healthy branches that rub (or will rub) against your selected branches. This way, your selected branches will have space, more light, more air circulation, and all the tree’s resources can be redirected to the strong parts. New branches will form on these strong parts and fill out your tree. Finally, don’t remove too much at once or your tree may not be able to adjust in time.
Ease in event design first has a lot to do with movement and space, clarity, and editing. Before guests can be wowed, they must be at ease. Guests can move their bodies and ease easily throughout the space. It’s not cluttered, there is a hierarchy of attention grabbers, and physical and sensory obstacles are minimized. The message is clear and your guests are comfortable.
Ease in flowers comes naturally in the garden. Ease in floral design comes from observing nature and mimicking shape. Floral designs with ease have an air of natural form. There’s also a curvature and sort of supported heaviness that comes from a thin stem working against gravity to hold up a big, fat bloom. It’s appropriately scaled and like event design, ease in floral design limits visual obstacles to a few attention seeking contrasts.
This bouquet for Adrianne and Michael was one of my favorite bouquets. It’s whole air of the day was full of ease. Oh, and it was definitely NOT easy to make. It’s a good reminder that the pursuit of ease takes a lot of refocus.
Scottish Moorland Themed Arrangement at the UW Botanic Gardens
Open and airy heathlands, lush textures, and a deep earthy feel. These are the elements we at Lola Event Floral & Design portrayed through our Scottish Moorland inspired centerpiece displayed at this July’s UW Botanic Garden Vendor Showcase.
Every texture and color conveyed richness and movement. Since we were located at the Botanic Garden, what a great opportunity to display landscape plants that are uncommonly used in floral design.
Here we show local physocarpus, willow, Mexican feather grass, and Blue Star Juniper in a copper trumpet vase. Also shown are orange coffeebreak roses, green hydrangea, spanish moss, faux pheasant feathers, and grapewood. Table, runner, and furnishings beyond are by Vintage Ambiance– Vintage and Antique rentals.
This arrangement began (as they all do) with a sketch.
More yummy, rich, fall colors were displayed on Vintage Ambiance’s display. They featured their new farm tables, gold toned vintage vases, and amber glass vessels.
I just love those ruffly Coffeebreak roses.
Farm to Table: Flower Arrangements with Edibles.
I get a special kick out of watching people interact with our flower arrangements. We don’t get to see it too often since we are typically long gone when the event’s guests arrive. This is especially fun when they see something unexpected- like something they are usually seeing on their dinner plates. That’s why I was so excited when Ravishing Radish asked us to set up a unique “farm to table” themed set for their April tasting at the yacht club on Lake Union.
Vintage Ambiance let us ransack their cave of vintage treasures. We picked up some pieces from their new stash of milkglass vessels and some old crates.
We chose to stick with oranges, reds, and yellows mostly because the daffodils look so freegin’ delicious. They are truly the happiest flower I know. After heading to the flower market we stopped by the grocery store for some kumquat, peppers, parsley, chard, lettuce, artichokes, oranges, lemons, and strawberries…. and asparagus…. and tomatoes… oh and grapes. Maybe I should have had a snack before heading to the grocery store.
aside from the produce, we also incorporated ornamental artichoke foliage and scented geranium.
We coated the lemons, oranges, and strawberries with a thick layer of decorative sugar. Yummm.
They will eat you alive….
Not really but they look like they could.
Last month, I spent an afternoon ogling the weird plants inside San Francisco’s Conservatory of Flowers. They were showing a ‘Wicked Plants’ exhibit based on the book by Amy Stewart of the same name. I highly recommend it. Surprisingly, the plants that could seriously do some damage didn’t look all that harmless… perhaps part of their wickedness. Most of the truly scary plants resided in the non-wicked rooms of the conservatory, and since their descriptions were underwhelming in scariness, I’ve devised some alternate stories about these plants. I think you’ll find that their descriptions fit much better with their strange, sometimes scary appearance.
First…. The Fuzz.
Like its form suggests, the fuzz is a slow-moving blob that resided in the Northwestern rainforests of this state. It relies on its prey to be incapacitated in some way, which allows it to take its time to devour the body (typically hikers and clumsy elk). The truly horrifying bit about this plant is that it is actually a mass of thousands of writhing individual strands. Each is alive. Each has its own agenda. Each is bound to its neighbor in a symbiotic relationship that allows it to feed on larger prey and protect itself from larger predators (such as a bird). Each little, individual doesn’t always agree with its neighbor. For this reason, most of the time The Fuzz just hangs out on branches because it can’t come to consensus. The exception is feeding time. The mass crawls slowly toward the fallen. Each tendril reaches out and grasps, clings and rubs, and sucks against the ground, each other, and eventually the prey. Each tendril slowly bores and digests its prey.
Next is the Tortoise Plant…
There is something terrible about coming to a slow demise. Like The Fuzz, the Tortoise Plant is also equipped to eat you very very slowly. Positioned near quick sand bogs, this plant has a feeding sac covered with scaly bark. In this sac, parts of you are slowly digested and your body is converted to energy and stored here for the plant to use at will. This is a wonderful survival feat considering not too many humans are unlucky enough to fall into a quick sand bog. Under the sac, the rest of your body hangs in the quick sand and is preserved by the low oxygen and low light environment. As more of you becomes needed, you are sucked into the feeding sac. It is said that one average adult can take up to three years to be completely digested. The Tortoise Plant has come onto the threatened species list in the last few decades because it cannot easily digest the synthetic fabrics in use today. So, when walking through the quick sand bogs, be sure to wear gortex, fleece. or your mom’s polyester blouses. If you, by chance, come to this sandy end, you will at least be diminishing the likelihood that someone else would come to the same demise.
This plant is definitely the most scary looking of all the plants at the conservatory. Unlike the other flowers, this flower only wants the grey matter in your brain. Its perfume is intoxicating, debilitating, and mind numbing. Its aroma sends its prey into a sort of trance. Bewildered, you would find yourself kneeling in front of the Bat Flower. The Bat flower leans toward the head and uses its feelers to probe the skull (because it doesn’t have eyes… flowers don’t have eyeballs). Once it finds your facial orifices, temples, and other soft spots, it’s feelers puncture your head and suck out parts of your brain leaving you lying at the base of the plant with a raisin head.
These pads are gigantic and are said to be strong enough to hold up an adult human. Unfortunately for some curious individuals that would test this fact, there is a subset of cousins that want to eat you. While stepping across the pads, the harmless ones gently give under your weight as you hop from pad to pad. Step on the wrong pad, however and SLURP, you’re gone. The pad immediately gives out, the sides reach up over your head, the sticky walls slap onto the top of your head, and you are pulled under before any of your friends even know you’re gone. Silent and quick.
The Coral Medinilla
Well, then watch out for the Coral Medinilla. Its bright red arms of poison look like something you’d want to stay away from. The plant knows this and has developed retractable leaves that pull back sharply to passersby. The stinging arms emerge quickly and jab melting acid into your eyes. The truly terrible part is that the plant doesn’t want to eat you. It gets all its nutrients from the soil. It’s just very territorial. However, even though this plant won’t kill you, it’s hard to get out of the forest with melted eyes and typically, The Fuzz will find you before you are saved.
Gigantic Pitcher Plant…
Down in a hole? Legs disintegrating into botanical ooze? Yes. Horrifying indeed. Human sized pitcher plants are a terrifying trap to fall into. The slippery sides prevent your escape and just end up wearing you out. Even if you were to scramble to the top, the pitcher lid bops you on the head, dropping you back into the hole. If you should find yourself in this painful predicament, be sure to hold your arms over your head. While you will definitely lose your legs, your only chance for survival is that someone will drop you a rope and you will need your arms to pull you out. You can’t hold onto the rope if both your arms and legs are gone.
Under this grate is where the conservatory keeps the plant food…
Maybe you should stick to the sidewalk this Halloween.
Plants that Look Like Muppets
You may ask, “Emily, why are you obsessed with muppets and poufs?”
Well, my friend, everything about le pouf exclaims joy and exuberance. It is a multi-sensational representation of happiness. The shape, the name, the come-ere-and-give-me-a-feel quality of it all, sheer joy.
Often, I wish my hair was a pouf.
Poufs make their way into my floral designs,
my garden designs, my doodles,
my dreams. The sub-concept for my wedding is the pouf. I like to eat poufs.
My thought process is a pouf.
Muppets are even better because they are floppy poufs that talk, thus completing Perfect Pouf Sensation Star. Below are some muppet- plant combos featuring some plants from the UW Botanic Gardens.
And this one might be a stretch…